Beautiful damselfly: the Red-tipped Shadefly (Agriocnemis rubescens)

Agriocnemis rubescens rubeola (Red-tipped Shadefly) –

Agriocnemis rubescens (Red-tipped Shadefly) in our garden “Come quickly, darling…there’s a damselfly on the orchid stalk”, beckoned John, my dearest hubby on a gloomy afternoon recently. Heart beating with excitement, I ran out with my camera! But the tiny insect was perched too high to capture an image. Without hesitation, John gently brought down the hanging pot which was above my head.

Disturbed, it flew away, fluttering higher still and ever so gracefully before attaching itself to the wall. And yet, within seconds as if sensing my disappointment, it fluttered downwards to my eye level to perch on the leaf of Lace Philodendron nearby, just a meter away. How incredible! I seized the opportune moment and managed to capture one image before it disappeared. :D

I’m so thankful to have been blessed with this single shot. My first capture of a damselfly! Though a little blurry, but I’m not complaining as it is definitely better than the little I saw with my naked eye. With this keepsake, I’m able to enjoy its beauty ‘forever’! ;)

As is typical of suborder Zygoptera, this small Red-tipped Shadefly is slender, with two pairs of colorless and clear wings that are narrow at base and similar in size and shape, which are held close along the abdomen when at rest. This dainty and delicately beautiful damselfly is about 3.5 cm long, with a black thorax that has bluish-green bands and an abdomen that is orange-red and black in color that darkens with maturity to black and light blue. It has a very conspicuous brilliant orange-red tail tip, hence its common name.

I had previously thought that this male beauty is Red-rumped Wisp (Agriocnemis rubricauda) which looks very similar. However, researching further, I’m more inclined to identify it as the Red-tipped Shadefly instead!


  • Scientific name: Agriocnemis rubescens (Selys, 1877)
  • Common name: Red-tipped Shadefly
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Odonata
  • Suborder: Zygoptera (Damselflies)
  • Subfamily: Coenagrionoidae
  • Family: Coenagrionidae
  • Genus: Agriocnemis
  • Species: rubescens (Selys, 1877)

Habitat: Open areas around slow-moving rivers, drains, ponds, creeks and lagoons or running waters and swamps in the forest.

Location: Found in Asia: Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam; Also found in Brisbane, Australia.

Differences between Damselflies and Dragonflies generally are –

  • Damselflies are usually smaller and less robust than dragonflies.
  • They have weak, fluttery flight, whereas dragonflies are strong fliers.
  • Their eyes are well separated, whereas dragonflies’ eyes touch on top of the head.
  • Both pairs of damselflies’ wings (fore wings and hind wings) are similarly shaped, but not those of dragonflies.
  • At rest, the wings of damselflies are held close to the body, but dragonflies’ wings are held away from the body at an angle of about 180 degrees.

Read more about them here.

External links:
1. Red-tipped Shadefly in Brisbane.
2. Damselflies in Singapore.

Last edit: May 30, 2016

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